Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer wants PC gaming stores on Xbox

 Phil Spencer.
Phil Spencer.

What you need to know

  • Speaking with Polygon, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer noted that he'd like to see PC gaming stores like the Epic Games Store on Xbox consoles.

  • Spencer explained that with the console market not growing overall, providing options for players has value.

  • There's nothing officially happening right now.

Imagine sitting down, turning on your Xbox console, and loading up your...Epic Games Store library? According to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, it's something he'd like to see.

In an interview with Polygon, Spencer talked about how the console market is flat overall (meaning that the same people are buying consoles, but the overall market isn't growing) and that one of the ways to provide more options for players would be to open consoles up. Hypothetically, this could mean allowing players using an Xbox console to buy games from the Xbox Store or from the Epic Games Store.

“[Consider] our history as the Windows company," Spencer said. "Nobody would blink twice if I said, ‘Hey, when you’re using a PC, you get to decide the type of experience you have [by picking where to buy games]. There’s real value in that.”

Spencer added that “if I want to play on a gaming PC, then I feel like I’m more a continuous part of a gaming ecosystem as a whole. As opposed to [on console], my gaming is kind of sharded — to use a gaming term — based on these different closed ecosystems that I have to play across.”

Microsoft is invested in PC gaming as well as Xbox

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Microsoft is no stranger to PC gaming, and in recent years it has doubled-down, bringing every Xbox game to Steam and PC Game Pass at the same time as the console release. Players that purchase a first-party game digitally on Xbox are entitled to the Microsoft Store version for free, and vice-versa, via Xbox Play Anywhere.

The Xbox App for PC Game Pass, which has seen a fair bit of criticism over the past few years, has also garnered improvements recently for better functionality and ease of use. This support has also grown due to major acquisitions across the past couple of years, with Microsoft bringing ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard King in parts of the Xbox organization.

Spencer has also previously talked at length about the need for better cross-save support across the gaming industry, wanting players to have their saves and progress regardless of where they choose to play a game.

Analysis: An idyllic future that won't be easily attained?

The idea of getting PC gaming stores on Xbox consoles is fascinating. It's also something that would be a gargantuan undertaking. At bare minimum, I assume it would require some sort of Steam Deck-esque verification system, with PC games rated as optimized, playable, or nonfunctional with Xbox hardware.

It's a neat thought experiment, and I'll always applaud moves that provide more robust competition and benefits for players, but if this is the future, it's probably some years off at the earliest.